2014 has been a particularly hectic year on the international stage. Notable events have included the rapid and malevolent rise of ISIS, Vladimir Putin’s takeover of Crimea and the resulting conflict in Ukraine, the alarming outbreak of ebola, and a number of tragic aviation accidents – in particular the mysterious disappearance of MH370, which remains unsolved.
A number of countries have managed to tarnish their reputations in 2014 through actions including repression of freedoms, bullying of the weakest members of society, making wild declarations on topics such as women’s rights, and most unsavoury revelations – especially the recently released US Senate report on torture conducted by the CIA. Others have done themselves proud, such as the Kurds, whose bravery in fighting ISIS has won them great international acclaim. Iraqi Kurdistan, the closest thing the Kurds have to their own nation, has gained respect as a result.
Turkey in particular has had a difficult year. As a result of regular street protests, widely documented human rights issues, accusations of funding ISIS, government arrests of media figures, and tragic mining accidents, the country has found itself in the critical eye of the global spotlight on many occasions in 2014.
As the year draws to a close, an interesting last minute development involves Cuba, which now stands poised to normalise relations with the USA in 2015 after being on the receiving end of more than 50 years of sanctions. It remains to be seen whether the resulting influx of tourism and outside culture influences will help or harm the Cuban people.
In the world of place branding, a new country index was launched this summer. The Good Country Index, brainchild of Simon Anholt and Robert Govers, aims to rank countries according to how much good they do for the international community. In the first incarnation of the Index, Ireland came out on top, as the world’s ‘goodest’ country. Although the country’s controversial anti-abortion laws that have recently been in the news could negate this achievement to some extent.
Talking of Ireland, Malcolm Allan and his team at Place Matters recently completed a project to create a new brand strategy for the city of Cork that will help burnish its credentials as a ‘smart city’ full of top universities and technology firms.
Jamaica, a nation full of positive assets but one that has long battled with powerful associations of drugs and crime, will host a place branding conference next summer, gathering experts from around the world to discuss ways to improve its brand, in ways other than the usual meaningless tourism commercials. The path to rebrand Jamaica is open and we will be monitoring it closely along the way.
Here on PlacesBrands, we strive to keep a watchful eye on the latest developments both around the world and within the industry. As we look back over the events of 2014, we’d like to revisit the five posts that were our most popular during the year.
PlacesBrands Top Five in 2014
1. Olympic Sochi - Viola Serdyukova presents an analysis of the Winter Olympics and what the event signified for the Russian national brand.
2. In search of place branding geographies - Eduardo Oliveira analyses a range of case studies to see how place branding strategy really fares in action.
3. The winner takes it all: City brand rankings - This is a close examination and critique of the ‘top 10′ country and city indexes that we see so many of these days.
4. The case of a bankrupt city: Yubari - Samantha North tells the story of a little Japanese town that pulled itself back from the brink of financial ruin, thanks to some clever branding.
5. Colourful logos, dark realities - Eduardo Oliveira debunks the surprisingly common misconception of place branding as a ‘magical tool’ to solve a place’s problems.
We wish all our readers the very best for a happy, safe and successful 2015!- See more at: http://placesbrands.com/revelations-and-reputations-2014-in-focus/#sthash.vknuI3mh.dpuf